Update: New Computer Investing Products
by CI Staff
The Options Investigator, from the Options Industry Council, is a superb educational tool and reference for options and options trading. Whether you are an options novice or a seasoned options trader, The Options Investigator has something for everyone.
As an educational tool, The Options Investigator is an interactive platform that offers several topics of varying complexity. The program is divided into seven sections, with most sections further subdivided into more specific topic areas.
The first section, Options Basics, covers basic options terminology. The other sections are Introduction to Premium, Strategy Basics, Placing an Order, Test Your Options IQ, Principal Factors Affecting Price, and Options Strategies. Along the way, users will find quizzes as well as a glossary of options terms. The Options Investigator
The Options Investigator’s Position Simulator allows users to investigate hypothetical options positions and, given factors the user can specify, decide whether the trade would be worthwhile. Users can set the starting stock price for the underlying security, the interest rate, quarterly dividend (if applicable), expiration cycle of the option, and volatility. Users then enter the information pertaining to the trade itself: Whether it is a long or short trade, how many contracts are being purchased, the strike prices, and the expiration dates. Based on this information, the program creates a Position Simulation, which contains a profit/loss analysis, trade summary, and a graph. Beyond being free, The Options Investigator can be set up to automatically update itself via the Internet every 30 days.
ProSticks is an on-line technical analysis and charting system with all of the features the average trader needs, as well as some unique offerings that may pique the interest of more advanced practioners.
For charting, ProSticks offers three different chart types—quick chart, Pro chart, and Java chart. The quick chart presents a bar or candlestick chart and corresponding trading volume as well as open, high, low, close, and volume data for the latest trading day.
The Java chart consists of five sections. There is a title panel containing the name of the security being charted, the periodicity of the chart, and the type of chart being used. There is a function panel where users can change the symbol being charted and a pulldown menu of exchanges. There are also pulldown menus to alter periodicity and chart type. The technical panel displays technical information of any indicators that are being displayed. Lastly, the chart panel displays price data, indicators, and oscillators. This is also when trendlines are drawn and text notes added to the chart.
ProSticks offers 25 technical indicators, with such favorites as moving average (exponential, weighted), Bollinger Bands, relative strength index (RSI), stochastics, moving average convergence/divergence, and volatility. Furthermore, users have the ability to modify the parameters used for the indicators, such as the number of periods used in calculating a moving average.
As mentioned, ProSticks offers some unique features such as distribution charts, scanning and screening capabilities, and data elements such as “modal points.”
ProSticks offers a chart pattern scanner that searches the market for 14 different candlestick patterns. Subscribers can also adjust the scan based on market capitalization, exchange, and when the pattern occurred. There is also a technical screen that scans the universe for stocks exhibiting one or more of 15 bullish or bearish technical conditions.
The “modal points” shown on the ProSticks charts represent the most heavily transacted price for the period represented by the bar, candlesticks, etc. The points, in effect, merge time and volume into a traditional price chart. Modal points are useful in identifying potential support and resistance levels as well as potential breakouts. They can also be used to confirm traditional candlestick patterns.
ProSticks also offers real-time tools for U.S. equities and foreign exchange traders. Real-time technical analysis, however, is limited. Portfolio tracking capabilities are also available to subscribers, with the ability to customize different portfolios with over 30 data fields.
CBS MarketWatch ETF Center
CBS MarketWatch’s new ETF Center provides a collection of investment tools, performance calculators and rankings, as well as daily news, feature stories and columns. The ETF Center also offers a basic ETF screener, with single-click screening by asset class, sector, style, sponsor, market cap, or region and an advanced screener with 14 screening variables. The ETF Center is free.
Prophet.net Shared Watch Lists
Prophet’s Shared Watch Lists allows users to tap into the collective Prophet community to see which stocks other Prophet users are following and generate investment ideas based on the opinions of Prophet members. Shared Watch Lists can be sorted in a variety of ways, including most recent and most popular. Subscribers can also locate Shared Watch Lists from a specific member. Shared Watch Lists are accessible to those with Prophet subscriptions, which begin at $14.95 a month.
AdviceTrade.com Real-Time Alerter
AdviceTrade.com has launched a real-time alerting system that delivers intraday buy and sell signals and technical market analysis to subscribers. The Real-Time Alerter (RTA) allows subscribers to access alerts across AdviceTrade sites, including TheTechTrader.com and MPTrader.com. Free services to these sites are available, and subscriptions begin at $99.95 per month.
Harrisdirect Reduces On-Line Trading Costs
As of July 6, 2004, Harrisdirect reduced its on-line trading fees. Clients with $500,000 or more in combined assets will now pay a flat $9.95 commission on on-line equity trades, with no share ceiling. In addition, the option base commission for those same clients has been reduced to $19.95 plus $1.50 per contract. For clients with less than $500,000, commissions for on-line equity trades are as follows: 1–17 shares, $19.95; 18–59 shares, $14.95; 60+ shares, $9.95; the cost is $0.02 per share for trades of over 1,000 shares.
ADVFN Adds NYMEX Futures & Options Data
Visitors to the ADVFN Web site will now have access to NYMEX futures and options data. The site also offers real-time coverage of the London Stock Exchange, Euronext.Liffe, OFEX, Nasdaq, American Stock Exchange, New York Stock Exchange, and FTSE, Dow, and S&P indexes. ADVFN users can get commodity quotes and add them to their portfolio and monitor pages. For tracking positions, the site offers percentage change, current price, expiration date, bid/offer, volume, and high/low prices for futures contracts and strike price for puts and calls. Users can also create intraday and historical charts for all commodities. Access to the ADVFN site is free.